Let’s stem youth Type 2 diabetes together

April 14, 2011

Supermarkets have the chance, and responsibility, to help families manage and even prevent youth diabetes with holistic programs.

Whatever anguish diabetes brings to adults, the feeling is worse when children are involved. The unfortunate Type 1 diabetics who develop the disease in their youth can quickly acquire management skills and use many tools available today to live well despite the disease. They have no choice but to play the biological hand dealt to them.

However, there’s a national surge in the incidence of Type 2, which doesn’t have to happen – except in a nation with growing girth even among children. Of course, genetics and other factors play a role, but the vast majority of Type 2 diabetics weigh more than they should, and that’s too high a correlation to ignore. This disturbing trend is about to put the United States through its first cycle of young Type 2 diabetics growing up. Their medical histories will unfold through the years, possibly in a painful way, as many face higher risks of heart disease, kidney failure, retinopathy, neuropathy and limb amputations.

Supermarkets, especially those with pharmacies, have both the opportunity and the responsibility to help lead families to successful strategies for managing the disease – because especially where children are involved, it is a group effort, we believe at The Lempert Report. It is just as important to avoid food and beverage temptations at home and school as it is to take glucose readings and medications.

We encourage food stores to educate families and point them to healthful choices on their shelves and displays. This website will be staying on top of this critical topic for readers. In households with youth diabetes, it’s hard to think of another health concern that causes as much anxiety. Therefore, it’s hard to think of another health concern that supermarkets should address as intently, or that could earn them as much loyalty from afflicted households.

Doors are wide open because it’s unlikely kids will know what to do, and will be disciplined to follow through on their daily care needs if the adults under their roof lack the knowledge to instruct and enforce. According to the U.S. Diabetes Index, almost half of all patients with diabetes are not controlled. Just 55% of diabetics check their blood sugar at least once a day, and more than half report not visiting their doctor over a 12-month period. 

Who will fill this knowledge gap? To a significant extent, it could be supermarkets. The most effective ones will integrate pharmacy and many healthful foods into holistic programs that people of any age can easily follow.